TBILISI, DFWatch–Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is still Georgia’s richest person, but his fortune has shrunk by USD 1.1 billion to USD 5.3 billion, according to a new rating by Forbes Magazine.
On Forbes’s new list of the world’s richest people in 2013, Bidzina Ivanishvili holds 229th place, down from 185 the year before, but in his home country he is still number one. In the 2012 rating, the political newcomer’s property totaled USD 6.4 billion.
“Georgia’s richest person by far, he decided to enter politics just a year earlier and within months had sold off all of his business interests in Russia for a net gain of nearly $1.3 billion,” Forbes writes.
In fact, when Ivanishvili decided to go into politics, he was criticized by members of Saakashvili’s party for having made his fortune in Russia, and he is still being accused of having pro-Russian views.
In order to lay to rest those accusations, the billionaire started selling his assets in Russia. The last company he owned there, Stolenskaya Niva, was sold for USD 180 million in September of 2012, a month before the parliamentary election in Georgia.
In January, as Prime Minister, Ivanishvili published a long-awaited property declaration. It is an obligation for the country’s officials to describe their property and regular expenses. According to his property declaration, Ivansihvilis pays USD 122 407 and USD 98 800 for communal fees.
“He has a collection worth $1 billion that includes Dora Maar with Cat by Pablo Picasso, which he bought at Sotheby’s in 2006 for $95 million,” Forbes reminded readers.
In October, 2011, when Ivanishvili first revealed his political goals, no-one knew much about him and only a couple of photos of him were available on the Internet. Some journalists were lucky enough to get the first interviews with him at his business center, and the investor didn’t miss a chance to show off his art collection to the journalists.